Boing Boing 

Indonesian /C/h/i/n/e/s/e/ schoolgirl flips off old begging woman

Dian Agung Nugroho's photo "F*** You (What's on her mind ?)" captures a Chinese Indonesian schoolgirl flipping off an old Chinese Indonesian beggar lady. The title really asks the important question -- what does this little girl know, and what has she been told, that has led her to this pass? F*** You (What's on her mind ?) (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Free Culture Flash game

Over on Play This Thing! Greg Costikyan reviews Paolo Pedercini's fascinating -- if simplistic -- Free Culture game:
So like, this is a Flash that has you moving little idea objects into the little heads of little ol' people who turn green when you feed them thoughts. When you feed the people ideas, they then poop out more ideas -- literally, off the top of their heads. A vacuum cleaner called capitalism keeps sucking up ideas to feed to the passive consumers, who have turned gray. By moving your mouse around to herd the ideas to the people, you keep the mojo flowing and eventually become the John Lennon/V for Vendetta guy of the game world, turning it into some kind of user-created-content lovefest. It's like the end of The Invisibles, but not as vivid.

The argument seems to be this: When ideas are shared, everyone gets richer, because the total number of ideas tends to increase in a recombinant explosion of creativity. Copyright is kind of fallacious, because all patterns of information are by default in the commons of vast, unexplored or previously explored possibility space. Ideas only become intellectual property when someone takes them out of the commons and stamps a (C) on it. The game is basically inviting you to say: "Fuck that!"

Free Culture (Thanks, Greg!)

North Korean video game arcade

Here's a collection of photos from a run-down North Korean video arcade. I'm sure that lots of developing countries have similar arcades, but this is notable due to the stark contrast with the legendary PC Baang arcades in the south. Inside a North Korean Arcade (via Waxy)

Immortal McHorror burger is 12 years old, looks just like new

Karen Hanrahan has been using the same McDonald's hamburger as a prop in her "Healthy Choices for Children" class since 1996 -- 12 years! -- and it's hardly aged a day in all that time. McDonald's should add "immortality" to its list of Unique Selling Propositions for its burgers (unless Karen has an ornate oil painting of the burger in her living room in which it slowly ages, grows mouldy, and decomposes).

The burger on the right, off the paper is a 2008 burger. I had to buy it to get the groovy paper and bag. The meat is a tad darker, the bun a little less golden but in 12 years it will look exactly like that too. Do you find this horrifying? McDonalds fills an empty space in your belly. It does nothing to nourish the cell, it is not a nutritious food. It is not a treat. I marvel at how McDonalds has infiltrated our entire world. A hamburger here tastes exactly the same in China or some around the world place.
1996 McDonalds Hamburger

Anti-suicide barriers on Japanese train lines

From TokyoMango: "Newer train lines in Japan have suicide prevention platforms. 5-foot walls span the entire platform, with doors that only open when the train has safely stopped at the station. Jumping in front of a moving train is one of the most common suicide methods in Japan–it was, at least, until people started spreading information on how to gas themselves at home." Suicide prevention train platforms

Rockbox 3.0: turn your old iPod into new h4wtness with free/open software

There's a new version of Rockbox out -- this is the free/open firmware replacement for MP3 players like the iPod, Archos, Sansa and others. It has many awesome features, including playback for more audio formats, like Ogg and FLAC, as well as adding games like Doom to the player. A new spoken interface makes it easier to use if you're visually impaired, too. A great way to breathe new life into an old iPod or other player -- and a great alternative to chucking it out. Rockbox 3.0 Released. Quietly., What is Rockbox? Why should I use it? (via Engadget)

Today at Boing Boing Gadgets

Today at Boing Boing Gadgets, we presented Low-Altitude Attack Zeppelin, our exciting futile browser game; rode to work in teflon-cuffed pants; and ate from Doha Chebib's beautiful log bowls. Joel read that Esquire's e-ink cover was an environmental bad idea, fumed at the stupid marketing term "3.75G," and lauded the new supersize Gorillapod. He spotted a device that keeps human larvae clean during meals. Rob wondered if China's electromagnetic space drive was pseudoscience, found a Windows Vista ad in an apt location, and saw a new pocket guitar amp. John reviewed Trust's useful all-in-one wireless keyboard 'n' trackball, but was otherwise indisposed. There were creepy robots; a robot breakfast; robots that fail gracefully; and robots that make party political broadcasts in England. Hook them all up with a Furutech's ultra-expensive power cable. As for another man dead after being tased by cops, perhaps it's time to take the power away. Read all this and more at Boing Boing Gadgets.

Failin' Palin. (UPDATED: As Putin rears his head.)

Andrew Sullivan, with whom I agree not all of the time, but do this time, says this about the CBS News interview embedded above: "All you can say is: unbelievable. Except it's true. She is the vice-presidential candidate of a national political party. Seriously." Transcript here, last night's edition is here.

Update: Look! There's Pootin' rearin' his ugly head. (Thanks, Rob Beschizza)

Who is this Rosh Hashanah person anyway?

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Defamer posted this purportedly leaked email from a DreamWorks exec assistant asking who Rosh Hashanah is. I have no idea if it's real or not, but it's a hoot. "DreamWorks Assistant Thinks 'Rosh Hashanah' Is Newest Hollywood Power Broker" (Defamer, thanks Jason Weisberger!)

China spacecraft launched, space station and manned lunar missions planned

China successfully launched the Shenzhou VII spacecraft today, in the country's third manned space mission in five years. Snip from New York Times article:

The three-day mission is part of Project 921, China’s ambitious manned space program, and was expected to include the country’s first attempt at a space walk, which would make China only the third country to accomplish the feat, after Russia and the United States.

The Chinese government has spent billions of dollars in recent years building up a space program that it hopes will establish a space station by 2020 and eventually put a man on the moon.

China Launches Space Walk Mission (NYT), and the Wikipedia article for Shenzhou V11 has lots of details. Or, go straight to China's state-run news agency Xinhua's Shenzhou VII coverage. Among the Xinhua articles is one celebrating the spread of the neologism "taikonaut"...

The word is a hybrid of the Chinese term "taikong" (space) and the Greek "naut" (traveler), or astronaut, according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. Another variation on the term is "cosmonaut", coined during the Soviet space era.

"Taikonauts" a sign of China's growing global influence (

Chinese banks told to stop loaning money to American banks / **UPDATED**

For the "yeah we're screwed" files: "Chinese regulators have told domestic banks to stop interbank lending to U.S. financial institutions to prevent possible losses during the financial crisis, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday." China banks told to halt lending to US banks, South China Morning Post via Reuters (Thanks JDP). UPDATE: China denies the report. (thanks, Ari Schwartz)

My-- *Our* BoingBoing Future

Okay, then. Going 'meta' on the participatory thing, I'm making an open appeal for people to participate in the process through [which] I attempt to produce some participatory media.

Now that I've got a toe in the door at BoingBoing, I'm going to pitch them hard on a longer-term relationship. The regular bloggers' positions are pretty well filled, but there are some opportunities for a bit of engaged cultural critique and collective problem solving - especially as BoingBoing expands into BBTV, IRC, and other forms of media.

I know what I'm hoping to accomplish. Here's a snip from my first pitch email to Xeni:

Interactive, interpersonal meadia can not only expose the artificial nature of the entities currently in control of the social and economic landscape - they can restore human agency, create the right conversations, connect people, and fight fear with fun.

Happy mutants are not unaware of the problems plaguing mankind, but they are committed to confronting them through collective, uninhibited, engineered transformation (mutation) and light-hearted, kind, and amused interactions (happiness).

So, I want to create pieces that initiate the conversations and behaviors that engage people in these processes. Each one would be the beginning of a discussion, and part of an expanding wiki of resources, supporting material, and user-generated content. A piece on "local currency" would branch out to embrace the local currency efforts, discussions, and tools out there. How *does* a person create a currency for his or her town? And where are the other people interested in doing this? Who has the best solar solutions, the most interesting way of organizing labor, the best free local Wi-Max network? Let's talk to the CEO's of GE and BP about their green efforts, and whether they believe their own hype. How about urban planning? Bike lanes? Ads on school buses and Coke machines in the cafeteria? What's in those textbooks, anyway?

This isn't pure 60's or Whole Earth radicalism and self-sufficiency (though it's certainly related) but a 21st Century, cyberpunk reclamation of all technologies and social contracts as essentially open source, up for discussion, and open to modification. It's an application of the hacker ethic and net collectivism to everything, done in the spirit of fun and adventure.

The question is, which medium? Instinctually, I'm drawn towards radio, which would enable interviews and live call-in. Is this hopelessly old fashioned, or is it a reflection of the bias of radio compared with TV? Is there a way to do video that's as interactive as voice? Or should interaction be kept on the margins of something more produced and standalone? More importantly, what sort of resource or engagement would you prefer (if any)? This is for you, after all.


(Douglas Rushkoff is a guestblogger)

Metaphors of the mind

Why do people think that sins "feel dirty?" Why do we use the phrase "cold shoulder" to describe someone rejecting us? Chen-Bo Zhong, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto, researches these "metaphors of the mind" and the physicalization of abstract thoughts. More recently, he's studying how not thinking about a problem can lead to creative solutions to that emerging more easily. From Scientific American:
What are some other examples of how seemingly abstract thoughts, such as feeling excluded, can have physical manifestations?

ZHONG: Another example would be the relation between morality and physical cleanliness. In my early work “Washing Away Your Sins: Threatened Morality and Physical Cleansing” in collaboration with Katie Liljenquist [a professor of organizational behavior at Brigham Young University], we discussed how metaphors such as “dirty hands” or “clean records” may have a psychological basis such that people make sense of morality through physical cleanliness.

When people’s moral self image is threatened, as when they think about their own unethical past behaviors, people literally experience the need to engage in physical cleansing, as if the moral stain is literally physical dirt. We tested this idea in multiple studies and showed that when reminded of their past moral transgressions, people were more likely to think about cleansing-related words such as “wash” and “soap”, expressed stronger preference for cleansing products (for instance, a soap bar), and were also more likely to accept an antiseptic wipe as a free gift (rather than a pencil with equal value).

Further, physical cleansing may actually be effective in mentally getting rid of moral sins. In another study, in which participants who recalled unethical behaviors were either given a chance to cleanse their hands or not, we found that washing hands not only assuaged moral emotions such as guilt and regret but also reduced participants’ willingness to engage in prosocial behaviors such as volunteering Thus physical washing can actually wash away sins. Perhaps this effect is why most world religions practice some form of washing rituals to purify souls. We should be cautious, however, knowing that if our sins are so easily “washed away” we might not be as motivated to engage in actual compensatory behaviors to make up for our mistakes.
Metaphors of the Mind (SciAm)

Smile stickers

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I like designer Alex Bec's "Smile" stickers. They're simple but effective. He's posted a slew of "installations" in his Flickr photostream. Smile (, Smile photos (Flickr)

Crystal-encrusted pot pouch

This tiny handbag, designed by Sylvia Toledano, is encrusted with Swarovski crystals. The description in the Vivre catalog reads: "Green 'leaves' are innocently set against a smoky topaz-hued pavé background." And yes, the word "leaves" is in quotations. Store your stash in here for just $1400. Other variations are also available, including one with a skull emblem. Each bag also comes with a blinged-out pen too. Marie-Jeanne Crystal Minaudiere (Vivre)

People more prone to lie in email?

New research suggests that people are much more likely to lie in email than when using pen and paper to communicate to someone. Lehigh University management professor Liuba Belkin and her colleagues ran an interesting experiment on 48 students involving a pool of money that was to be divided among themselves and an imaginary. According to the researchers, those using email during the negotiations lied 92 percent of the time compared to pen-and-paper users who fibbed around 64 percent of the time. From a press release:
Looking for an opportunity to explain whether a shared sense of identity reduces an e-mailer’s impulse to lie, Belkin and her colleagues set up a second, related study of 69 full-time MBA students. The results of that study indicated that the more familiar e-mailers are with each other, the less deceptive their lies would be.

Bu they would still lie, regardless of how well they identified with each other.

In recent years, researchers who have compared e-mail to other modes of communication have found it to be associated with such unattractive behaviors as lower interpersonal trust, more negative attitudes, and, perhaps most notoriously, a greater penchant for "flaming"–sending messages that are offensive, embarrassing, or rude.

But in trying to account for the difference between two communication modes that appear similar, the researchers surmise in their report that people may "feel written documents carry stronger legal consequences than do e-mails, which feel fleeting in nature, despite the fact that they are actually harder to erase or contain. Thus, deception may be viewed differently in these two environments."
"Researcher: Workers more prone to lie in e-mail" (Lehigh University)

Betelnut girl art installation on NYC street

In certain Asian countries, Betelnut is a popular stimulant sold by scantily-clad young girls in streetside booths. A couple years ago, artist Annamarie Ho recreated a Betel nut booth as a gallery installation commenting on this "sexually provocative sales style" in which, it would seem, customers are buying interaction with the salesperson as much as they're paying for the Betelnut. For the next two weekends, Annamarie is reviving the piece, Binlang Xi Shi (Betelnut Girls), but this time in the more unpredictable location of a New York City storefront. I'm sure the Betelnut Girl will have some, er, interesting interactions with the passers-by. Betelnut project page (, Binlang Xi Shi (

Previously on BB:
• Lots of Betelnut posts

Electronic cigarettes to circumvent smoking ban

A pub near Birmingham, England is helping customers beat a smoking ban by selling electronic cigarettes. Since offering them last weekend, the Butler's Arms have sold six packs at £39.99/each. From The Telegraph:
The new E.cig smokes like a real cigarette and users get a shot of nicotine every time they inhale.

The device even produces a cloud of water vapour with every puff, though causes no harm to smokers...

(Proprietor Chris) Giles said: "When it's freezing outside and chucking it down with rain it's a good alternative to going outside for a cigarette.

"We built a smoking shelter, but it's just not the same for smokers who have been marginalised by the ban...

"Luckily we can tell people aren't really trying to light up because the electronic ones are black in colour with a blue light," (says bar assistant manager Becky Giles.)
"Pub uses electronic cigarettes to beat the smoking ban" (The Telegraph)

Lamps Everywhere

I'm teaching at NYU's ITP this semester - just one course called Narrative Lab, where we look at the way the elements of story change for interactive media. It's fun stuff, and always yields some great experiments in collaboration and structure that challenge the sense of inevitability intrinsic to traditional (or at least today's market-friendly) story. Think of it as a place to engage with everything from GPS to FRPs, or both at the same time. We look at Greek drama, happenings, games, and holodecks.

But since we're only in the first couple of weeks, I've got nothing to show here. Instead, I'm delighted to share a project by a co-conspirator at ITP, Marianne Petit (the teacher who moderated the discussion between me and Scott McCloud at Comic-con this year) has been curating, hosting, and promoting some marvelously obsessive art shows.

This one, by Matt Belanger, Sean Riley, and Ven Voisey, is called Lumens, and collects lamps from people of two separate neighborhoods, bringing them together in a single reactive space. There's nothing like seeing a baby light up from the inside when you get close.

Scores of personal lamps that usually inhabit and illuminate the interiors of homes and shops have been borrowed from the residents of Adams and North Adams, Massachusetts, filling two gallery spaces: Greylock Arts in Adams and MCLA Gallery 51 Annex in North Adams. In addition to the lamps, the personal stories and histories that accompany the lamps have also been collected. These are represented in a virtual gallery on, which also serves to connect the two locations telematically. As an individual wanders through the gallery space, clusters of lamps illuminate in response to their presence and simultaneously illuminate lamps in the counterpart spaces. It is in this way that an individual in Adams can communicate his/her presence to an individual in North Adams, and vice versa. Additionally, as visitors investigate the history of a particular lamp online it also illuminates in the physical gallery space.

(Douglas Rushkoff is a guestblogger)

Book-spines turned into stories

The Sorted Books project picks books out of collections whose spines, when placed in sequence, can be made into a sentence or story. Sorted Books) (Thanks, Marilyn!)

Shark/dismembered bodies cupcakes

Moogie made these ass-kicking shark-attack cupcakes (complete with body parts!) for a Shark Art Contest. First prize! Shark Attack Cupcakes (Thanks, Marilyn!)

Interview with Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett (music)

Boing Boing tv's UK-based music correspondent Russell Porter catches up with Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett for a brief chat about the band's new record, Loyalty to Loyalty, just as Willett and the band finish a set at San Francisco's Outside Lands fest.

Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video and instructions on how to subscribe to our daily video podcast.

(special thanks to Virgin America for air travel, and to Wayneco for the magic bus)

Related Boing Boing tv episodes from Outside Lands:
* Andy Gould, rock band manager, dances on the labels' graves.
* Primus: Xeni interviews Les and Ler (music)
* Kaki King, guitar hero: performance, interview with Xeni (music)
* BB Gadgets' Joel at Outside Lands: Crowdfire deconstructed
* Carney at Outside Lands - a "Boing Boing tv Bus Session." (music)
* Steel Pulse founder David Hinds at Outside Lands (music)
* Boing Boing tv backstage at Outside Lands: (Xeni + Russell Porter)

Why can't America call its torture *torture*?

A front page story in the New York Times today begins:

Senior White House officials played a central role in deliberations in the spring of 2002 about whether the Central Intelligence Agency could legally use harsh interrogation techniques while questioning an operative of Al Qaeda, Abu Zubaydah, according to newly released documents.

In meetings during that period, the officials debated specific interrogation methods that the C.I.A. had proposed to use on Qaeda operatives held at secret C.I.A. prisons overseas, the documents show. The meetings were led by Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, and attended by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft and other top administration officials

"Harsh interrogation techniques"? I know our current president and his administration wants to distance from the "t-word," but why are we, the people and the press, afraid to just call torture torture? Link to related items in the Times about the CIA's destruction of tapes that document the use of torture in the Zubaydah case, Salon has this related piece, also good background reading. Even this former CIA agent who believes torture is helpful calls it "torture." What kind of cowards are we? (via Dan Gillmor)

Princess Leia Nagel-esque poster (Leia + Nagel = Leigel?)

Our pal Bonnie Burton from LucasFilm says: "Our very own designer Craig Drake created this AWESOME '80s-inspired Princess Leia poster!" Snip from the description:

For the uninitiated (or too young to remember), artist Craig Drake's "The Princess" artwork is reminiscent of the pervasive style of illustrator Patrick Nagel, whose posters and prints became fixtures of interior design during the 1980s (older fans might remember the artist's famous cover illustration for Duran Duran's Rio album from 1982). There's also a hint of the guitar-strumming vamps of Robert Palmer's classic '80s "Addicted to Love" music video.

We asked Drake what inspired him to render Leia, another '80s icon, in the era's signature style. "Like a lot of Star Wars fans having grown up in the '80s, I was exposed to some amazing signature pop culture visuals," says Drake, who suggests Nagel's style probably came closest to representing the fashion and oppulence of the '80s. "Truthfully, his style really annoyed me as a kid, but as time went on I began rediscovering his work -- his brilliantly minimalist yet bold vision of beautiful, strong women is what inspired me to illustrate Princess Leia."

Read more about it here, y it here ( Why this is so beautiful and so eighties: it's a sort of Patrick Nagel tribute.